An emotional moment in Venezuelan history

Va, pensiero, sull'ali dorate;
va, ti posa sui clivi, sui colli,
ove olezzano tepide e molli
l'aure dolci del suolo natal!

For a long battered opposition it has been the sweetest of days, charged with promises as we have not had in a long time. And I am not minding merely a change of president. After more than a decade of serious punishment  where all received that curse, even those who received a prize, we have sensed this afternoon that we payed our dues, that we may have made penance for our mistakes and maybe we are ready for the promised land, for atonement.

The man responsible for that, for that immediate joy is Henrique Capriles Radonski. But his power of catharsis comes from the steely minds that have finally taken over the duty to rebuild our country into something else than the tropical mess for which we have been so willing to make excuses for.  I am speaking of Ramon Guillermo Aveledo as the main sword carrying angel, but also of governor of Zulia Perez, tall, orange shirt, in the back line of the stand where Capriles spoke to the the nation, but also to Caracas.  It was a day of "but also" because all converged to the magic moment when a skinny guy who is not a great orator, but a precise and to the point one, enthralled a country.

I mention Perez because he is a symbol like many of all of these people that have in the last few months released a lot of their personal ambitions. They have worked hard, really hard, inspired by a selfless Capriles. They have all understood that Chavez is an angel of doom that has overstayed his welcome and who will finish off our country and our dreams if we allow him to remain a day more.  I am in awe that all, from Perez to Lopez, have buckled up and went all out to elect Capriles. And he has payed back because no one ever has worked as hard to become president of Venezuela as Capriles has done since last February. No one, not even the Chavez of 1998 comes close.  That is why Capriles has been filling the streets of Venezuela to an amazing extent in the last two weeks, just to end up in today's apotheosis, the largest, biggest ever political meeting in the history of the Americas.

Maybe in some revolution in some big city there were more people in the streets than today. But I doubt it very much and I even dare someone to make the case for such an event.  Chavez can leave in peace: today's meeting puts him in the history books in a positive way.  I like to think tonight we finally can all of us owe something to Chavez, a common embrace toward a better fate.

Pourquoi le prononcer ce nom de la patrie ?
Dans son brillant exil mon coeur en a frémi ;
Il résonne de loin dans mon âme attendrie,
Comme les pas connus ou la voix d'un ami.

I never watch political speeches.  On occasion a Chavez cadena to find fault with him. But of all the folks I ever voted for, I never listened to more than half a speech and maybe a full debate or interview. It has always been enough for me to measure the man.  And yet in the last few weeks I have caught myself listening to Capriles speeches.  They are short and folksy and not to my vocabulary level. But their precision, his choice of topics, his crafted delivery if not fashionable, betrayed to me a more powerful mind than I already suspected.  It requires a great mental discipline to lower yourself without losing your dignity nor being condescending.  I certainly have not come to share all of his ideas or his solutions for Venezuela but I respect his ability for dumbing down his speech for people to understand without requiring the vulgarity that Chavez cannot do without.  I suspect that Chavez political vulgarity was an hypnotic asset at first but then Capriles finally has turned it into a liability.

But I digress: what I meant to say is that I have been surprised at how effective his speeches are.  Today for the first time Capriles was even able to bring emotions in me. Yes, I am not too proud to admit it. And even if it troubled me I quickly understood why.  See, like Capriles I am a caraqueño even if I have sent myself into a Yaracuy exile since Chavez won office. Even if I have lived for years outside of Venezuela. When your first memories are El Avila, you cannot forget.

Capriles was in front of his city, his people, and taking the measure that the immense crowd that was in front of him was nearly all from Caracas.  We forget that there has been no recent president from Caracas.  Since the XIX century there has been only the months long tenure of Romulo Gallegos, which ended in tragedy.

I think that Capriles had a felicitous mix of feelings. He felt the power he now holds. He felt the pulse of his battered home city. And that is what I heard, a speech about how Caracas, my Caracas, has been degraded over the decades.  And how it pained him as much as it pains me.  It worked. Capriles spoke to me. I know it as a fact.

Seguid el ejemplo que Caracas dio

Certainly we cannot assume that a monster meeting like today is enough to win an election. Though I am sure that a high percentage of the assistance has voted for Chavez at one point.  But I do not want to be as cynical as Juan at Caracas Chronicles that has become to Datanalisis what VN&V has become to Consultores 21.  I think that polls in Venezuela are ill equipped to measure momentum, though all have "detected" a rise of Capriles numbers.  But there has been one phenomenon difficult to measure, sense or explain: after 13 years people were so sure that Chavez is here to stay that the waking up may be of dramatic proportions.

Something is going on in the country and I am not going to speculate.  Tomorrow I will publish my final estimates and I advance that I am still giving Capriles a mere 600,000 votes more than Chavez in spite of today's show in Caracas.  But I have seen San Felipe.  I have watched Maturin and Maracay and San Juan de los Morros, and Valencia. And those were no accident.  Something is astir. It is not about Caracas, nor about a given provincial capital. It is about our fate.